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Never hate the regret of not trying more than the failure

New London — Picture it: Me dancing. Ewwww. All the rhythm of a rhinoceros. What must I look like? And heaven knows what's jiggling.

But there I was, Saturday night at Hot Rod's, bopping along to the band Fusion (they're awesome, by the way) when someone approached me.

"Can I talk to you?" he said.

Now when you have my job, this is normally the time to fake an injury. Kinda sorta don't want to hear their opinion about why the National League should go to the DH at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night.

"I have to tell you something," he said. "Remember when you were our graduation speaker?"

It was Fitch High, 2006.

"I do," I said.

"Well, you said something that night that changed my life. You said, 'love what you do.' You said, 'don't be like those people who wake up on Monday morning and hate life. Don't be like that. Love what you do.'

"I was in a job for nine years that I hated," he said. "Then I thought about you and what you said. I got out. Now I'm doing something I love, and I've never been happier. I can't thank you enough."

Seldom am I rendered speechless. Honestly, I nearly cried. It was among the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

Now for the more relevant part: I almost didn't go to Fitch that night. I nearly faked an injury. Because I was paralyzed with fear.

If you know me, you know that I speak with a stutter. It's gotten better over the years. But there are some days I sound like a CD with too many scratches. And that night, I nearly let fear get the best of me.

What if I get up before 1,000 people and can't speak?

What if they all make fun of me?

I'm not sure what got me there that night.

Sure glad I showed, though. Because what if I didn't go?

I'd never have known the utter joy of a conversation with someone whose life changed because of it.

I've written a lot over the years about overcoming That Little Voice Inside Your Head. I want to encourage you all again to be vulnerable. Vulnerability begets courage. And courage leads to productive change.

This is why I love sports so much. You are out there. You miss shots. Strike out. You lose. As Michael Jordan once said: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Because you're still in the arena participating.

Which sure beats the cheap seats.

Author Brene Brown, whose books have changed my life, wrote "Daring Greatly" some years ago, based on a speech Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910 called "The Man In The Arena." The book is about how courage and vulnerability are interwoven. The impetus was this speech:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better," Roosevelt wrote. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.

"If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

I love that. Loosely translated, Roosevelt said that you'll hate the regret of not trying more than the failure. So, so true.

Funny how life works. I never thought that "love what you do" was particularly profound. Not exactly one of the Beatitudes, you know? But it resonated for at least one person. And that gives me inner joy like I haven't had in a while.

So ...

Love what you do.

Don't be afraid.

Be vulnerable and courageous.

You'll like yourself a whole lot more.

Trust me.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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